Ahead of the 2011 season the tomato team from our Woodland plant purchased and installed our first tomato steam peeler from Italy. Since the Italians have been peeling tomatoes by steam for centuries, this seemed like our best option! This peeler is capable of 60 tons/hour (96,000 15oz cans or 14,000 #10 cans per hour), which is 20 tons more than other methods of peeling. With our growing organic pack and customer request for this type of peel we purchased our second steam peeler in preparation for our 2012 season. This peeler can also handle 60 tons of tomatoes/hour. The Buscetto (2011) was built in Naples and the Navatta (2012) is from Parma. The peelers are engineered to quickly and effectively steam peel our tomatoes. To date, we are the only tomato processor in the world to have one unit from each main steam peeling manufacturer! If you would like to see our steam peelers in action, please ask your Sales Manager about a plant tour for the 2014 pack season.
Thoughts of a PCP Peach Grower
How long have you been farming cling peaches and how many acres are you farming?
I’ve been farming cling peaches for over 10 years now. My family has been farming cling peaches for many, many years. So, it feels like I’ve been farming peaches my entire life. I currently farm about 70 acres of cling peaches along with walnuts and olives, which are used to produce olive oil.
Are your trees on surface or well water? If on surface water do you know yet if you will receive enough water for your trees this year?
Our peaches are on micro-sprinklers; therefore we are using well water to irrigate. However, we do have walnuts that utilize surface water so we are very concerned about what our allocation will be this year. We’re hoping the recent rains will help the situation, however we’re also realistic and we’re making alternative plans to irrigate these blocks.
Will the current rains impact the bloom, and if so, how?
The recent rains can cause some issues, however we also understand that we need as much water as possible to help with the drought. Fortunately, we have ways to mitigate the effects the wet weather has on the bloom.
In terms of the cling peach industry, how is it doing? Are sales and pricing good?
The cling peach industry continues to struggle. Pricing to the grower has increased over the past few years, however it’s only just catching up to the increase in costs we’ve also experienced. Inputs like labor, fertilizer, electricity and pest/weed management products have increased as well. And labor costs will continue to press on returns as minimum wage increases take effect in the next year or so.
Additionally, we’re seeing other commodities, like walnuts and almonds excel. So, as peach orchards reach the end of their productive lives, we’re seeing growers replace these orchards with other crops. Consequently, we’ve seen peach tonnage slowly decrease over the years. Processors see the writing on the wall and are pushing growers to plant more peaches. Until we see parity with these other commodities, I think you’ll continue to see growers move away from peaches.
What is the biggest challenge for cling peach growers currently?
The biggest challenge continues to be labor availability throughout the harvest season. This pressure is also affecting growers during thinning season as well. The labor force is stretched during this time as laborers move to pick cherries; we need them during this time to thin the peach crop. So, from the beginning of May through August, growers are scrambling to fill out our labor crew. We’ve learned a lot about our consumers within the past year or so. We’ve also learned a lot about our product with the recent publication of an Oregon State University study on the effects the canning process has on peaches. We’ve found that the canning process improves many of the nutrients found in peaches. So we’re getting the word out to the country that canned peaches are an affordable, nutritious snack the can be enjoyed year round! How do you harvest your peach crop? We hand harvest our peaches using ladders and picking bags. Like I said earlier, we’re always worried about labor availability and safety.
PCP has converted 10 million 6 #10 cases from full fiber to case trays, saving over 31,000 trees annually!
Our Woodland Tomato Plant (our largest cannery) has reduced its daily water usage during pack by over 56 percent over the past five years!!
Since 2011, the impressive facility has reduced usage during pack season by 29 percent annually.
New Items to Watch!
- Canned Pineapple
- Mango Fruit Bowls
- Canned Mandarin Oranges
- Canned Mushrooms
- Daufuski Canned Oysters
- Water Chestnuts
- Variety of Gel Fruit Bowls
- 24oz Fruit in Glass Jars
- 3.5oz Squeeze Fruit Pouches
- Canned Bruschetta
- 4oz Salsa Bowls
The final snowpack reading for the season is 32% of normal
Rain in late March allowed tree fruit growers to skip a couple irrigation cycles and save water for later
100% of California is in an exceptional or extreme drought!
Growers in the south region are being restricted to 5% of normal water requirements, and the program allowing them to carry over water credits expired March 1, 2014
We have only received 56% of our normal rainfall since July 1st 2013
With a good peach crop we will receive 108,000 tons of peaches, our demand is 120,000 which is a continuing problem, but something we have a plan to overcome
The Department of Water Resources said it is increasing water allotments from the State Water Project from zero to 5% of what water districts have requested. The State Water Project supplies water to 29 public agencies serving more than 25 Million Californians and irrigates nearly one million acres of farm land
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will supply 75% of the water requested by water agencies in the Sacramento Valley, up from the current 40%
Federal and state officials said rain and snow from storms in February and March allowed them to increase water allotments.
800,000 acres will be fallow due to no water
As stated in FoodNews, the projected peach acreage is expected to be near 364,000 tons – more than the past two years, but less than the preceding four years. In the event that yields are around the five-year average and the 10-year average, the state of California would produce between 307,000 and 321,527 tons.